Javi Gracia’s confident approach proves Liverpool cannot underestimate Watford

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Watford manager Javi Gracia has adopted a positive outlook ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to Liverpool, with the manager revealing he has a near fully fit squad.

The Reds take on Gracia’s seventh-placed side in midweek looking to return to winning ways after tough back-to-back draws with Bayern Munich and Man United.

Watford reached the 40-point mark with a brilliant 5-1 win at Cardiff on Friday, with Gerard Deulofeu scoring a hat-trick and Troy Deeney netting twice in something of a statement display.

Relegation has not been a concern for the Hornets for much of this season, but either way there is no suggestion they will ease off after reaching the Premier League‘s ‘safety’ tally.

Indeed, speaking at his pre-match press conference on Monday, while paying respect to the league leaders, Gracia vowed to pursue victory at Anfield.

“We are in a good moment with confidence to play the next game,” the Spaniard told reporters.

“In this case we feel confident, but, on the other hand, we will play against this team away and it’s very, very demanding.

“We will try to be ready to compete, do our best and have the option to get the result.”

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Watford's Kiko Femenía (L) and Liverpool's Sadio Mane during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No doubt fuelling Gracia’s confidence is the luxury of having the majority of his squad fit for the trip, while Jurgen Klopp is likely to be without Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Roberto Firmino and possibly Andy Robertson.

The Watford manager provided an update on the fitness of his squad, with right-back Kiko Femenia ruled out as “the only player not available.”

As the club’s official website attests, the condition of the visitors’ squad means the likes of Christian Kabasele, Sebastian Prodl, Nathaniel Chalobah, Isaac Success and Adalberto Penaranda are struggling for game time.

It could be that Gracia opts for an unchanged side on Wednesday, with Ben Foster in goal behind a back four of Daryl Janmaat, Adrian Mariappa, Craig Cathcart and Adam Masina.

Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue started in midfield in Cardiff, with Will Hughes and Roberto Pereyra flanking the forward pair of Deeney and Deulofeu.

However, the likes of Tom Cleverley, Domingos Quina and Andre Gray are also options, with the latter behind only Pereyra (six), Deulofeu (six) and Deeney (eight) in the goalscoring charts this season, on five.

WATFORD, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 24, 2018: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

But while Liverpool take on a Watford side in solid form, winning their last three, they themselves should remain confident of taking the three points and staying top of the table.

Despite a tough first half at Vicarage Road in November, the Reds eventually battled to a comfortable 3-0 win, while they have only lost once in seven meetings with the Hornets since their return to the top flight, victorious in five.

Mohamed Salah in particular could be key for Klopp, having scored six times in three games against Watford so far.

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